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Ashley KellerMrs. SniderEnglish29 January 2018Helen Taussig’s Life Saving Discoveries “If your work is good enough, men will respect you and will grant you what is due to you. Whatever field you choose, just work quietly and steadily to make this world a better place, and your life will be worthwhile,” Helen Taussig once said. She saved most of the “blue babies” in her lifetime. Being a woman and remarkably having the challenge of hearing, Helen Taussig made many life saving discoveries in order to help others.Helen Taussig had a very difficult and sad childhood and had many college opportunities. She was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on May 24, 1898(Internet 1). When she was eleven years old her mom, Edith Guild Taussig, who taught botany to her, was diagnosed with tuberculosis and died quickly(Murphy 29). While her mother taught her botany her father, Frank Taussig, helped her learn German(Murphy 29). Helen also had dyslexia which caused her to perform poorly in reading and spelling and she barely passed math(Murphy 30). When she was thirteen she caught a mild case of tuberculosis which only allowed her to only attend school in the mornings for a little over a year( Noyce 103). She eventually learned to read very well in spite of her dyslexia(Noyce 103). After she was able to catch up in school she started playing tennis and became an excellent tennis player(Noyce 103). She applied for medical school in 1921 and was accepted into Harvard Medical School(Murphy 31). She was the only girl in her class so she was separated from the men and had to sit alone(Murphy 31).She applied for an adult internship but unfortunately another woman received it so instead she attended a pediatrics internship(Pendred 104). Her professor recommended her to Boston University(Murphy 32). While she was there her professor, Dr. Alexander Begg suggested that she should study conditions of the heart(Murphy 32). After attending Boston University she attended Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and graduated from there in 1927(Internet 1). After she graduated she was appointed to run a local pediatric cardiac clinic that was established in 1930(Murphy 32).  Taussig sadly lost her hearing but made remarkable discoveries with two other colleagues and at the same time had an emotional bond with her patients. She started to lose her hearing when she was thirty two years old(Murphy 32). The doctors could not explain what had happened but one doctor had a theory that it might have been the after effect form a little bit of whooping cough(Murphy 32). This put her medical career in great danger(Murphy 32). When she got her first hearing aid it did not work so she began to teach herself how to read lips and she bought a stethoscope that increased the sound that would go to her ear(Murphy 32). When it got worse she taught herself how to listen to a child’s heartbeat with her fingers(Murphy 32). She would put the tips of her fingers on her patient’s chest so she could feel the heartbeat(Murphy 32). She was a primary caregiver to her patients(Noyce 105). She later tried to figure out what was causing tetralogy of Fallot to help her patients with whom she had an emotional bond with(Murphy 41). She put together information from a moving shadow of the heart and determined the fault in the plumbing of the “blue babies” by fluoroscopy(Noyce 105). She figured out the cause of the “blue babies” before Alfred Blalock(Internet 1). The “blue baby” syndrome is when there is not enough oxygen flowing to give your blood the color red(Noyce 101). When this happens then the child’s lips and fingers turn blue(Noyce 101). She told a doctor, Gross, about an operation for tetralogy of Fallot but he turned her down(Murphy 35). In England, Blalock and Taussig gave lectures on the congenital heart abnormalities and the “blue baby” operation(Murphy 83). She met with Alfred Blalock to discuss the “blue babies” and Vivien Thomas accompanied him(Noyce 106). Vivien did procedures on dogs(Noyce 106). On November 29, 1899 the doctors said Eleen Saxton, one of their patients, was untreatable with tetralogy of Fallot(Internet1). Because they decided try the new operation on her she became the first patient to survive(Internet1). It was in the Time and Life magazines and in the newspapers all around the world(Internet 1). In April of 1945 Blalock and Taussig wrote The Surgical Treatment of Malformations of the Heart(Noyce 107). It described the procedure done for tetralogy of Fallot and it was known as the Blalock-Taussig shunt or the Blalock-Thomas-Taussig procedure(Noyce 107). Helen was an excellent writer and she wrote Congenital Malformations of the Heart in 1947 and she revised it in 1960(Internet 2). Everyone who had children with tetralogy of Fallot came to Taussig to have her save their children(Noyce 107). Some surgeons came to look at the famous room where the procedures took place that was  called room 706 that was called the Heart Room(Noyce 107).  She heard from a trainee about how a German pediatrician, Dr. Alois Bauren, saw an increase in deformities in Europe(Noyce 109). Some people thought it was from pollution or radiation and others thought it was from a sleeping pill called thalidomide(Noyce 109). Helen realized that there was no one who had established a potential risk for a drug taken by a pregnant lady so she went to Germany to see what was going on(Noyce 109). She testified against the drug in front of the U.S. congress(Internet 2). President Kennedy talked about the drug in a press conference and the FDA told every medical practitioner in the country about the dangers of using the drug(Noyce 110). Thankfully only seventeen babies were affected in the U.S.(Noyce 110). In 1962 Congress passed the Kefauver-Harris Amendment to strengthen drug regulation in the U.S.(Noyce 110). Helen Taussig had a wonderful and relaxing retirement and had a very tragic death. She retired when she was seventy eight to a Pennsylvania retirement community(Noyce 110). She published a remarkable number of forty one papers when she was retired(Noyce 111). In February of 1986 Samuel Sanders, a pianist who was a blue baby gave a special recital in honor of her(Noyce 111). May 20, 1986 she was driving a car full of people of friends and pulled out in front of a car and crashed(Noyce 111). Sadly, she died before the paramedics arrived(Noyce 111).Helen was happily awarded many worldwide honors (Internet 2). She received the Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 and in 1965(Internet 2). She was the first woman president of the American Heart Association(Internet 2). She is still widely known for heroically saving the “blue babies” and being brave enough to not back down. She was a brave and diligent woman who struggled through many difficulties but was so determined that she made a huge impact in society. Helen Taussig made a tremendous impact on society. She saved most of the blue babies during her time and doctors still use her method today to save other innocent babies from dying. She also proved herself to the government when she worked to strengthen the drug law in every doctor’s office in America. She also proved to the world that even a deaf person can be a pediatric cardiologist and listen to patient’s hearts. She was the first female president of the heart association and encouraged other women to strive for excellence.Helen Taussig made life saving discoveries in order to help others and had the disadvantage of hearing loss and being a woman. She discovered a surgical procedure to  save children from dying of tetralogy of Fallot. She also prevented the outbreak of deformities of newborn children in the United States. She was probably scared at first when she testified against the  thalidomide drug but she ended up saving the country form a terrible tragedy. This smart and diligent woman is what caused so many people with a zero percent chance of surviving to live a long and happy life.

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